BERLIN: Germany’s drive to harness wind and solar power is producing so much electricity that it’s spilling over into neighbors’ grids and increasing the threat of blackouts.
Poland and the Czech Republic are spending $180 million on equipment to protect their systems from German power surges, while Austria is curbing some trading to prevent regional networks from collapsing. On a windy day, the overflow east can exceed the output from four atomic reactors.
Germany’s fivefold increase in green energy in the past decade has outpaced investment in power lines to move it across the country. Electricity is looping through Poland and the Czech Republic to reach southern Germany, where supply is constrained as Chancellor Angela Merkel shuts nuclear plants after the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan. The disruptions show the limits to the European Commission’s vision of a single power market.
“A huge accumulation of overflow increases the threat of a blackout,” Zbynek Boldis, the head of trade and international relations at Czech grid CEPS AS, said in an interview in Budapest. “The root of the situation is allowing a huge amount of electricity to be generated regardless of the capacity of the grid.”